Getting involved in students' lives — from school to home
- The San Francisco Unified School District spent funds to train teachers around the Common Core math standards, even hiring substitute teachers so classrooms would be covered while educators went to workshops, according to EdSource.
- After three years, for example, John Muir Elementary doubled its math scores. The school has an average class size of 25 students, and some teachers say that classes of 40 or more can also make it harder to help students, even with professional development.
- Training also included how to work with families, understanding cultural differences, and also how to positively support students throughout the year, even making the point to tell them when they had done well.
Research shows that teachers are one the most important assets in a school — a fact administrators know well. Just as districts keep their technology tools up to speed and in working order, so too should educators be kept well-trained with the most up-to-date knowledge.
Offering educators professional development is key — particularly around boosting student performance in core areas including math. A new direction for teachers — a shift that can be hard for some to make — is learning how to deliver math lessons differently, not using a lecture-style, but instead acting as guides, allowing children to work through problems on their own.
Another key shift is supporting students not just in class, but at home as well. A child can only pay attention at school when they feel safe across all areas of their lives. Teaching educators to recognize when there are extenuating circumstances around a child’s life — whether that may be homelessness or poverty — can help children focus.